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ESA Open Invitation to Tender: 1-10674
Open Date: 22/07/2022 09:03 CEST
Closing Date: 09/11/2022 13:00 CEST

The objective of the activity is to design, manufacture and test in orbit an inflatable drag device for de-orbiting small satellites from Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Performance data will be gathered (deployment imagery and positional telemetry) in a fully representative space environment (including drag effects) that would not be possible to simulate or test on ground. Targeted Improvements:Reduce de-orbit time by a factor of 5 (for altitudes of 450-650km) in comparison to natural orbit decay. Description:There is an increasing number of satellites in LEO predominantly due to large constellations required for the growing market of satcom services. To avoid orbital saturation, there is a critical need to develop simple, readily available de-orbiting devices that the small satellite industry is willing to adopt. At low orbits (<450km) atmospheric drag naturally de-orbits the spacecraft. At higher altitudes (>450km)drag is less significant and hence there is a need to develop de-orbiting technologies. Current developments make use of deployable sails but are too complex and too bulky for small satellites (up to 200Kg). This activity will develop and test in orbit an inflatable drag device aimed at de-orbiting small satellites (<200kg mass) within 10 years from altitude range 450-650 km to comply with future telecom regulations and international standards. The activity shall spin-in proven terrestrial technologies such as airbags from the automotive sector. It is critical that the device is as simple as possible with minimal number of mechanisms and shall be compatible with volume production requirements. It shall be developed for integration within existing platforms and scalable for a range of small satellite sizes. It shall have a low mass to volume ratio, be highly reliable and survive micrometeorite impacts. The device shall incorporate a backup passive activation system. This will enable fail safe actuation at the end of the mission or for out of control tumbling satellites. The passive actuation time period shall be tuneable commensurate with the mission lifetime. Possible triggering mechanisms could make use of accumulated exposure to the space environment (e.g. vacuum, atomic oxygen, radiation). In-orbit testing is essential as a representative space environment including drag effects are not be possible to be simulated or tested on ground. The devices will be embarked on a 6U Cubesat platform or similar and an accelerated spacecraft de-orbiting test will be carried out. Test data will be collected in the form of in-flight imagery of the deployment as well as GNSS data. In addition, de-orbiting will be tracked from ground. Footnote: On Delegation Request activities will only be initiated on the explicit request of at least one National Delegation.

Directorate: Directorate Telecom Integrated Applica
Estabilishment: ESTEC
ECOS Required: No
Classified: No
Price Range: > 500 KEURO
Authorised Contact Person: Audrey Ferreol
Initiating Service: TIA-TT
IP Measure: N/A
Prog. Reference: E/0534-01G - CC-AT 4.0.1
Tender Type: Open Competition
Technology Keywords: 20-C-II-Structural Material Concepts
Products Keywords: 2-N-7-Inflatable space structures

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